Fall ReOpening Update – 8.6.2020

August 6, 2020

Dear Santiam Community,

Last week, Governor Brown put forth state and county metrics for COVID-19 cases that must be met for schools to reopen this fall. These new requirements upended our plans to allow all families the option of either in-person learning or distance learning. These new metrics now close our schools to all students for in-person instruction. We had hopes that we could still open for K-3 students, since our schools are located in Linn County, but yesterday I learned that all counties a district spans must meet the metric requirements. Linn meets and Marion does not, therefore we must close and only offer distance learning. We will begin the school year with distance learning for all students, yet we will stand ready to open for K-3 or for all students if the data improves and we are allowed.


With this news we now transition all our focus to distance learning. This will not be the same distance learning of last spring. This will be like school from home with attendance requirements, grades, assignments and live support from all our teachers, counselors and administrators. We learned a lot last spring and we are improving our systems, teacher expectations, parent support and student interaction and connectivity. School this fall will look different than school in the past, but one thing will remain true, our staff will connect with kids and do all we can to support their educational, social and emotional needs. This is where small towns and small schools can shine- we Stand Together! And in difficult times, we Never Give Up!

Although I am saddened to not be able to offer in-person instruction, I now turn my attention to the work needed for success. We have a great team at Santiam and we will do all we can to support our amazing students. Even in the moments of discouragement, it is inspiring to see staff members frantically working on the development of online instructional tools, making schedules, seeking expert support and finding solutions to rapid changes (and all that was in about an hour timeframe). Our staff is moving forward now!

With the shift to full distance learning we are also partnering with our local online provider, Oregon Charter Academy (ORCA), for online system support, curriculum options and teacher training. I just met with ORCA leadership today to discuss this collaboration. What a great combo- our local teaching staff partnered with online experts. We are lucky to have them!

We will be ready to educate our kids this fall!


For all students to return to school we need:

  • less than 5% testing positivity rate Statewide: NOT MEET
  • less than  5% testing positivity rate for Linn County: MEET
  • less than  5% testing positivity rate for Marion County: NOT MEET
  • less than 10 COVID cases per 100,000 people in Linn County: NOT MEET
  • less than 10 COVID cases per 100,000 people in Marion County: NOT MEET

Exception to bring K-3 back to school we need:

  • less than 30 COVID cases per 100,000 people in Linn County: MEET
  • less than 30 COVID cases per 100,000 people in Marion County: NOT MEET

The data for this can be found HERE

We have been told the next revision of state guidance will be released on August 11, but it is unknown as to what that could be. We will update the community as soon as we develop more detailed plans, such as, lunch delivery schedules, Chromebook and supply pickup and registration information.

School level information from Santiam Elementary School and Santiam Junior/Senior High School will also begin to flow next week as well, soon after the updated guidance is released.

Thank you for your patience and support through this.

Todd Miller, Superintendent